We hear it all the time---"Just let it go!" when a well-meaning someone is giving us advice on how to let go of a mistake, a missed opportunity, a difficult memory, or an irritated feeling. Waayyyy easier said than done, right?
We live in a world that teaches us to hang on to things. Peter Russell, spiritual teacher and author, explains that the reason letting go is so hard is that we can't do letting go; we have to first undo our gripping, our holding on, our grasping.
This is hard for us, because our culture teaches us to grip and grasp. Paradoxically, our body can be the leader in teaching our mind to let go. Try this: pick up an object and grip it tightly in your hand. Try to let go of it as you are squeezing your fingers very tightly around it, telling yourself that you Must. Let. Go. Are you able to listen to yourself and just let go?? Pretty hard to do.
Now try holding that same object lightly, softly, gently. Slowly open the palm of your hand and watch it balance on your palm. Feel the relaxation in your hand as you look at the object. Take your time. You may notice a bit of an ache in your arm from holding your palm up. Take a deep inhale, and as you exhale allow yourself to lower your hand down to your side. Notice the relief in your arm muscles as your arm drifts down. As you do so, the object falls away on its own as gravity takes over.
By focusing on relaxing your grip, and taking the time you need to allow for the softening to slowly take place, the thing is more easily released. The strain of forcing the letting go is replaced by the softer releasing of our grip. Pair this strategy with your long slow exhalation the next time you want to let go of something.
With practice, you will find that things that don't serve you can be released with less gripping.